The suspensions of four players on Jan. 12 left the women’s basketball team scrambling to fill roster spots and struggling to win. Since that time, the Rams have seen their record slip below .150 in conference games and they have even brought in two volleyball players as reserves for their shorthanded bench.
Fortunately for the team, help is on the way. Head Coach Jen Warden announced Wednesday that two of the four players who were suspended for their involvement with a chemical bomb prank have been reinstated.
Freshmen guards Emily Neal and Brittney Stirling practiced with the team on Wednesday and are scheduled to play in Thursday’s match-up with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
The suspensions of freshmen guard Kelly Jo Mullaney and center Raysha Ritter are slated to continue. Coach Warden declined to comment on the status of volleyball players Mekana Barnes and Ashley Fornstrom with the team.
With their personnel straightened out for the moment, the Rams head to Las Vegas this Thursday to face the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (9-10, 3-4 MWC) in Mountain West Conference action.
CSU (6-13, 1-6 MWC) will be looking to snap their six-game losing streak, dating back to Jan. 6 when they lost to TCU in their second conference road game.
The Rams are coming off an overtime loss to rival Wyoming in which they only had six full-time players available. Overtime proved too much for the depleted team and they fell 78-66.
Junior guard Sara Hunter said that playing as well as the team did with such a small roster will help to give them confidence in the weeks to come.
“I think that for the girls that were there it gives us confidence. We came together as a team,” Hunter said.
The Rams enter the game ranked eighth in the Mountain West and in the bottom half of nearly every statistical category among teams in the conference. Still, the team has seen some outstanding play in spots over the past two weeks.
Freshman guard Ashley McFarland has put up 36 points over the last two games and has been extremely potent from outside the arc, hitting eight of her last 12.
On the glass, senior Marilyn Moulton has led the team in rebounding in 11 of its 18 games this season. She is averaging 8.5 boards per game, good enough for fourth overall in the conference.
The Rebels come into the game having lost three of their last four and are currently ranked sixth in the Mountain West.
Offensively, they are lead by junior guard Sequoia Holmes, who has been averaging 13.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.
On the block, 6-foot-3-inch forward Faye Miller leads the Rebels with 10.4 rebounds per game. She has pulled down 187 boards this season and is the leading rebounder in the Mountain West.
According to Hunter, the game will come down to ball control and hustle, two things the Rams have managed to do pretty well in the past few games.
“We have to take care of the ball and just play tough,” Hunter said.
Coach Warden sees things in a much simpler, but similar, manner.
“We have to do the job that is in front of us,” Warden said. “I think things have become very simple for this team. We are practicing hard and we are who we are. Just do the job in front of us and go Rams.”
Women’s basketball beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: CSU at UNLV
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas
TV: The mtn. (Comcast channel 411)
Radio: KCOL AM 600
Jan. 8- A chemical bomb is detonated outside the apartment of women’s basketball player sophomore Kelly Finley. No damage is done to the apartment complex and there are no injuries.
Jan. 12- Four women’s basketball players, guard Kelly Jo Mullaney, forward Raysha Ritter, forward Brittney Stirling, and guard Emily Neal, are suspended from the basketball team after police notified CSU that the four women would be charged with Class III misdemeanors.
Jan. 13- A depleted Rams squad takes the floor with just eight women in uniform and gets blown out by New Mexico at Moby Arena, 72-43.
Jan. 16- The four players receive their summonses from the police with a scheduled court date of Feb. 21.
Jan. 20- Senior guard Molly Nohr plays only 11 minutes, while freshman forward Nya Mason injures her ankle just four minutes into her stint during CSU’s 75-66 loss to San Diego State.
Jan. 25- With the four players still suspended, Nohr out for personal reasons, and Mason hurt, the women’s basketball team is forced to suit up two volleyball players, Mekana Barnes and Ashley Fornstrom for a game against rival Wyoming. Barnes plays 23 seconds in an overtime loss.
Jan. 31- Stirling and Neal are reinstated to the team and make the trip to Las Vegas to take on UNLV.